Lightning Look To Strike Back in Game 3 in the Nation’s Capital

By on May 15, 2018

Lars Eller gets position on Dan Girardi to get the puck on Andrei Vasilevskiy (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lightning Fan Base is worried. There is doom and gloom being written by the daily fish-wraps all around town but that’s not unusual, just rare when it comes the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The team is down 2 games to none versus the Washington Capitals and many thought that the Caps were just another stepping stone on the Lightning’s path to the Stanley Cup.  They were obviously mistaken. After a 4-2 loss in Game 1 where the Lightning’s rust was glaring with numerous turnovers (18) and a ridiculous amounts of passes into teammates skates, players and fans alike were expecting a different result in game 2.

After the Lightning got a 2-0 lead on two power play goals, their offense was shut down by the Capitals and their suffocating defensive scheme.The Capitals are using a 1-1-3 neutral zone type trap. ( See pics ) They are limiting the Lightning’s skating ability through the neutral zone and are negating the Lightning’s fore-checking capabilities that were so successful against Boston and New Jersey.

Ondrej Palat gets triple-teamed slowing down the Lightning offense (Photo-Travis Failey)

Victor Hedman gets the Palat treatment (Photo-Travis Failey)

But it’s not just about what the Capitals are doing. The Lightning are not playing within their structure and are turning the puck over way too much and the Capitals are “capitalizing” on them.  Coach Jon Cooper addressed this:

“We’re probably not following our structure the way we have in the previous two series,” Cooper said. “That’s one thing. The second thing you hit on is execution. We get chances to make plays and our team has the ability to make plays and we’re not.

“It’s either pucks in the skates or it’s too far ahead or you’re putting it somewhere where they can’t handle it. It’s just unlike us. In saying that, in an 82-game season I could probably count 15 games where that happens. It happens. Nobody plays the perfect game. Nobody goes 82-0. Nobody goes 16-0 in the playoffs. It’s just heightened when you’re at this time of the year and this time.”

TJ Oshie, Lars Eller and the Caps score on Vasilevskiy and the Lightning (Photo-Travis Failey)

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has struggled a bit but you can’t put the all the blame all on his shoulders & pads. He has been hung out to dry by his teammates on the defensive side of the puck and has dealt with numerous odd-man rushes by Washington’s number one scoring line. Does Vassy have to be better? Yes, especially on the short side post shots that have gotten through in this series, and the late period “spoiler” goals.

Then again, too many times in this series, the forwards are getting back late and Vasilevskiy is getting screened or has no chance to make the big save before the puck is in the back of the net. Other glaring issues plaguing the Lightning are the bad penalties that this team has taken, and the fact that the Capitals are in the Lightning’s head.

Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson celebrate Washingtons’s goal (Photo-Travis Failey)

Do I think that the Lightning can turn this series around? Absolutely. The Lightning have played well on the road in the playoffs (3-1) and were one of the top 3 teams in the league on the road during the regular season.

Ryan Callahan rides Christian Djoss into the boards (Photo-Travis Failey)

Keys for them to win tonight are obvious: Stay out of the penalty box, slow down Washington’s speed through the neutral zone and get some big and timely saves by Vasilevskiy.

Some not so obvious keys are playing with more composure and instead of dump and chase ( which hasn’t worked ) go with more of a chip and chase which will keep Braden Holtby in the net where he can’t play the puck.

 

Brooks Orpik cross-checks JT Miller in front of Braden Holtby (Photo-Travis Failey)

 

Braden Holtby digs the puck out of the net after the Lighting 1st period goal (Photo-Travis Failey)

Yanni Gourde (Photo-Travis Failey)

The Lightning also need to get better 5-5 where they were arguably the best team in the league during the regular season. In this series they have scored 1 even strength goal and have been dominated. The 3rd and 4th lines have got to be better and provide some much needed scoring punch. Rookies Yanni Gourde and Anthony Cirelli have been slowed down and Goude has especially been aggravated which has led to power play opportunities.

Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh try to slow down Jakub Vrana (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lastly, the defense, which was great against Boston, has got to play better and Jon Cooper needs to make adjustments and find some match-ups to manipulate. The Bolts have the experience, the players and the talent to beat this Capitals team, and with everyone questioning them, the Lightning need to find the answers and to turn this series back around tonight in the nation’s capital.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

No love lost between Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik (Photo-Travis Failey)

Chris Kunitz takes on a Capitals trifecta of Tom Wilson, Brooks Orpik & Christian Djoss (Photo-Travis Failey)

 

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